Photo above: Alan Lathan performs at Music of Forever at the historical Grace AME Chapel. Photo provided.
By Aileen Goldstein
There is a new twist in town on the old dinner and a movie combo: Every Friday and Saturday evening, there is a professional Christian theater performance available for free.
Hillary and Alan Lathan are the local couple behind the new show in town. Alan, a professional actor, performs all the characters and his wife, Hillary, plays all the music for the show every weekend.
“We are a one-man show and a woman on the piano,” joked Alan.
What started as a traveling show has now found a home in historic Beaufort. The couple began looking for a permanent home for the show they created and through a series of fortuitous accidents.
Music of Forever has found a home at the historical Grace AME Chapel. The chapel was constructed in 1858 and includes a hand-painted mural centerpiece.
“I saw a sign on the door one day that said ‘We have moved’ and so we called Rev. Smalls and she put it before their board and they agreed the establishment of a Christian drama was a wonderful idea for Beaufort,” explained Hillary.
According to Hillary, the show puts Jesus on a personal level that everyone can relate to.
“People that may never walk into a church will come to the drama and experience the gospel in a way that is real and fresh to them,” she said. Alan added that the audience can watch the show from both a dramatic or spiritual perspective.
The show includes seven characters and seven pieces of music. The irony of the number is intentional, as seven is a biblically significant number, according to Hillary.
There are quick costume changes and songs to charm both the young and old alike, as this is a family friendly production.
“It is not your average church play,” said Hillary. “For example, Gabriel is a bit of a comedian and he does a reggae dance.”
The idea for the production began when Hillary was given divine inspiration to combine all of their talents into a theatrical performance. She spent the next week with her Bible and computer, rarely stopping for a break. Alan’s work then began, as he memorized the script Hillary wrote.
What emerged was a series of storytelling by seven biblical characters retelling their experiences with Jesus.
The couple scoured the Lowcountry to find props for their stage, including a driftwood harp Alan made and an authentic, working herald trumpet along with a jungle of palm trees. One of the most important parts of the production, a grand piano, was donated by Jeff Herrin of Herrin Piano Tuning.
The show is the only professional Christian theater in the region, according to Hillary. The couple has one hope in bringing this theatrical production for historic Beaufort.
“We are trying to bring forth the love of God. God loves you and we want you to know that,” said Alan.
Music of Forever is performed at 6 p.m. every Friday and Saturday at the Grace AME Chapel on Charles Street in Beaufort. For more information, visit www.musicofforever.org. The performances are free, but donations are accepted.